A year ago when we were a month into Covid-19 shutdown, I wrote about the most common STD, HPV, as the “other virus” we should be talking about. This January, the CDC reported that the most recent data shows that 1 in 5 Americans has a sexually transmitted infection. Of newly acquired STIs (26 million), nearly one in two occur in people 15 to 24 years old.
One in 10 people in the U.S. now has had Covid-19. That’s, of course, still big news. But how is it that I didn’t get the CDC report on STIs to my news apps, which I read every night? Isn’t this continuing epidemic of STDs also big news?
One thing that is good, is that now teens have seen how infections can spread from to person. I’ve mentioned in my Zoom teaching this year that it’s not like one person came from overseas and infected the entire U.S. single-handedly. Likewise, it’s not just one promiscuous person in a high school spreading STDs to everyone else. Instead they are spread from relationship to relationship when those relationships have been sexual. It’s important to help teens understand that being sexually active puts them at risk of exposure not just to the person they have sexual contact with, but ALL their partner’s past partners (and their past partners, etc.) as well. Consider using the example of the Covid-19 epidemic to help your teen understand the spread of STDs, and ask your teen what they think is the most foolproof way of avoiding STDs, some of which can cause lifelong pain or even death. Hint: The CDC says abstinence from all forms of sexual activity is THE ONLY sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancy and STDs.